In Lemon And Apple from 1983, Roy Lichtenstein transforms brushstrokes from vehicles of expression into the subject matter of his art. This bold print firstly examines the long-standing tradition of still life painting, as immortalised by renaissance and impressionist artists.
In many respects, the work represents an abstracted version of Lichtenstein’s Six Still Lifesof 1974. Moreover, as Lemon And Apple employs an off-white backdrop devoid of any patterns, it is similar to the artist’s Seven Apple Woodcuts of the same year.
Lichtenstein here stages enlarged and intersecting strokes of colour as his main composition. The work offers a primary colour scheme of blue, red, yellow, and black. The pigments are arranged into energetic sweeps and elementary shapes symbolising fruit. Bent out of shape, the amorphic lemon and the angular apple sit side by side, their vivid colours bleeding out onto the canvas.
There is a rhythm to the artist’s dynamic sweeps, as he actively exploits the unrefined and abstract qualities of his own visual language. The expressive brushstrokes employed by Lichtenstein in this print refashion the painterly gestures utilised by the abstract expressionists. As such, Lemon And Apple constitutes the conceptual predecessor of the artist’s Brushstroke Faces of 1989.